I am delighted to be guest posting monthly at A Thyme for Writers where author and fitness aficionado, Karen Van Den Huevel, shares a host of tips to add spice to your life. Each month Karen features a variety of guest contributors who share her love of healthy living inside and out–and the joys of writing and reading great books! My monthly column is titled, The Write Spice, where I’ll open the spice cabinets in my own kitchen and draw out metaphorical lessons writers can learn from the character of natural flavors to make your writing more flavorful, too!

When you write, do you think how your words will taste in the mind and heart of a reader? Will it influence? Be winsome and compelling, inviting eager eyes to read further on, hungry for more? Or, will it be repellant and unconvincing, disgusting and dulling to your reader’s sensibilities?

Like a sumptuous meal of many courses and flavors, your writing possesses the most healthful benefits with a balance of tastes. The old adage, “variety is the spice of life,” applies to written works, too.

Human taste-buds are highly charged nerve endings on the tip of the tongue, uniquely designed to identify five basic tastes categorized as either aversive or appetitive. For instance, sweet tastes clue our bodies into energy-rich foods as sure as bitterness warns the body of possible poison.

Unless you’re a coffee or cocoa lover, bitter flavors that often elicit a sweet response.

There are five taste senses that bode benefit or harm regarding foods, much like the words we choose in our storytelling. Whether we’re crafting a fictional tale or non-fiction essay on crucial topics, the words we use must be garnished with “the write spice.” Sprinkle your words generously with these four tastes:

Sweetness is the taste commonly associated with sugar. It is a pleasant taste that can energize and delight in measured doses, but also cause illness in excess. How you add sugar to your story, in wise amounts, evenly distributed—with an extra dollop on top at the end—will determine the satisfaction of the story, leaving its reader lifted and smiling.  

Sourness in taste is a clue to the acidity of a thing. Perhaps this is best used in smaller doses. Though youngsters gravitate to the shocking sour flavor of certain popular candies, sour, well diluted, is best. Consider the sharp pucker of a pungent lemon slice until squeezed into a tall glass of water where a spritz of sour gives just the right bit of refreshment. So, too, a pungent word or scene can arrest a reader’s attention with a refreshing perspective if mixed well.

Saltiness in foods is what makes the bland turn to bliss on the tongue. Consider how dull any dish is without a dash of salt. Salt levels in processed foods makes them tasty. Salt and sweet together are especially addictive. But, remember—a little dash’il-do-ya. High salt/sodium content in foods makes the heart race and is not healthy. Again, a pinch of salt and a cup of sugar blend brilliantly in baked goods and storytelling.

Savory flavor is where you’ll find more substance, such as in broths and cooked meats. Our writing should be savory with substance. Say something! Savory tastes are the low notes that add depth and gravy—I mean, gravity—to your work. If we want to provide healthy influence with our words, make the body of your work something a reader wants to savor in their heart and mind—the meat and potatoes of the meal.

Bitterness in foods may be immediately repulsive and unpleasant, but a bittering agent may be just the nutritional ingredient to make your dish effective. So, too, in your writing, a blob of bitterness stirred into the mix—like unsweetened cocoa powder added to a cake batter—might just surprise you when you taste the finished product. Sometimes a bitter twist in your writing is the unexpected plot element that ultimately sweetens by the end of the story. The surprising flavor keeps your reader engaged until, mixed together with the sweet, sour, salty, and savory, you have a delicious dish that will prompt your reader to ask for second helpings!

TWEET: The Write Spice: #WritingTips for Flavorful Words; Taste Test Your Story Five Flavors Full Click To Tweet@misskathypwp

TWEET: From sweet to sour, salty to savory, and a tad of bitterness in between, well-seasoned stories touch readers’ taste buds with memorable flavors and healthful influence. #WritingTips Click To Tweet@misskathypwp


Check out Karen Van Dan Huevel’s book, Hidden Bloodlines. She uses her experience as a lawyer to craft a engaging romance-thriller celebrating the power of hope, love, and faith. 

Sharing Balancing Written Words to Taste for Flavorful Influence this week with:

Literacy Musing Mondays

Create with Joy Inspire Me Mondays

Vintage Cottage Mama


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